Almost every patient with diabetes will develop some degree of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the name of the eye disease caused by diabetes. Diabetes principally affects the retina – the light sensitive tissue lining the inside of the eye.
Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness, but in most cases severe vision loss can be prevented by timely and regular eye examinations.
Every patient with diabetes should undergo an annual eye exam which includes dilation of the pupils.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy can cause anything from slight blurring of vision to blindness. Ideally, our aim is to examine you in a timely fashion to treat the disease before it causes any change to your vision, that is, even though you may be seeing perfectly well, you may still have signs of diabetic retinopathy.
Decreased vision is most often caused by macular edema. Diabetic macular edema develops when then normal retinal blood vessels leak. When the leakage accumulates near or in the macula, vision can become blurred.
Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy
About 10% of patients with diabetic retinopathy will progress to “proliferative diabetic retinopathy.” It is this stage, where abnormal blood vessels proliferate inside the eye, which can cause blindness.
These abnormal blood vessels are called “neovascularization.”
Neovascularization may lead to either a painful type of glaucoma or may cause the retina to detach. Either may lead to blindness.
When to get Examined
The eye exam should include dilation of the pupils to allow direct examination of the retina.
Based upon these results, referral to a retina specialist, such as Dr. Vincent Sardi, may be necessary.
Regardless of symptoms (i.e. even if you have 20/20 vision), your sugar levels and A1C, every patient diabetes should be examined.
Patients with diabetes who have regular eye exams have < 1% chance of severe vision loss over their life time!
We look forward to seeing you.